Monday, July 12, 2004

Marching Home - One Battle at a Time

"Travel to distant lands, meet strange and exotic native peoples, and kill them."

That's military science fiction for you, although in this case it also is the slogan of the Bronze Battalion of the Empress' Own Regiment.

After terrorist sabotage, Prince Roger MacClintock and the Bronze Battalion space marines are stranded in the wilderness of the planet Marduk, noted for high mountains, high temperatures, low technology and the short tempers of its nine-foot, four-armed, slime-covered natives. They must march halfway around the planet to get to the nearest spaceport. Along the way, they must make allies and battle barbarian tribes who are out to destroy everything in their path. All this turns the prince from a spoiled brat into a valuable member of the company and a true leader.

Great storytelling and plot, deceptively deep characterization, and a sneaky sense of humor all contribute to make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Unlike most military science fiction and indeed, other works by the two authors separately, these books don't get too bogged down in technical details or battle descriptions. In fact, the battles scenes are handled so skillfully that I actually read all of them instead of skipping them as I might in other books. History buffs might recognize this as a takeoff on the story of Xenophon.

This is the first of a series continued in March to the Sea and March to the Stars. Fans are awaiting the next installment to see where Prince Roger will march to next.

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